Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Home Vegetable Gardening 6


It is my purpose in this chapter to assist the gardener of limited experience to select varieties sure to give satisfaction. To the man or woman planning a garden for the first time there is no one thing more confusing than the selection of the best varieties. This in spite of the fact that catalogs should be, and might be, a great help instead of almost an actual hindrance.

I suppose that seed stores consider extravagance in catalogs, both in material and language, necessary, or they would not go to the limit in expense for printing and mailing, as they do. But from the point of view of the gardener, and especially of the beginner, it is to be regretted that we cannot have the plain unvarnished truth about varieties, for surely the good ones are good enough to use up all the legitimate adjectives upon which seed stores would care to pay postage. But such is not the case. Every season sees the introduction of literally hundreds of new varieties--or, as is more often the case, old varieties under new names--which have actually no excuse for being unloaded upon the public except that they will give a larger profit to the seller. Of course, in a way, it is the fault of the public for paying the fancy prices asked--that is, that part of the public which does not know. Commercial planters and experienced gardeners stick to well known sorts. New varieties are tried, if at all, by the packet only--and then "on suspicion."
In practically every instance the varieties mentioned have been grown by the author, but his recommendations are by no means based upon personal experience alone. Wherever introductions of recent years have proved to be actual improvements upon older varieties, they are given in preference to the old, which are, of course, naturally much better known.
It is impossible for any person to pick out this, that or the other variety of a vegetable and label it unconditionally "the best." But the person who wants to save time in making out his seed list can depend upon the following to have been widely tested, and to have "made good."
Asparagus:--While there are enthusiastic claims put forth for several of the different varieties of asparagus, as far as I have seen any authentic record of tests (Bulletin 173, N. J. Agr. Exp. Station), the prize goes to Palmetto, which gave twenty-eight per cent. more than its nearest rival, Donald's Elmira. Big yield alone is frequently no recommendation of a vegetable to the home gardener, but in this instance it does make a big difference; first, because Palmetto is equal to any other asparagus in quality, and second, because the asparagus bed is producing only a few weeks during the gardening season, and where ground is limited, as in most home gardens, it is important to cut this waste space down as much as possible. This is for beds kept in good shape and highly fed. Barr's Mammoth will probably prove more satisfactory if the bed is apt to be more or less neglected, for the reason that under such circumstances it will make thicker stalks than the Palmetto.
Beans (dwarf):--Of the dwarf beans there are three general
types: the early round-podded "string" beans, the stringless round-pods, and the usually more flattish "wax" beans. For first early, the old reliable Extra Early Red Valentine remains as good as any sort I have ever tried. In good strains of this variety the pods have very slight strings, and they are very fleshy. It makes only a small bush and is fairly productive and of good quality. The care-taking planter, however, will put in only enough of these first early beans to last a week or ten days, as the later sorts are more prolific and of better quality. Burpee's Stringless Greenpod is a good second early. It is larger, finer, stringless even when mature, and of exceptionally handsome appearance. Improved Refugee is the most prolific of the green-pods, and the best of them for quality, but with slight strings. Of the "wax" type, Brittle Wax is the earliest, and also a tremendous yielder. The long-time favorite, Rust-proof Golden Wax, is another fine sort, and an especially strong healthy grower. The top-notch in quality among all bush beans is reached, perhaps, in Burpee's White Wax--the white referring not to the pods, which are of a light yellow, and flat --but to the beans, which are pure white in all stages of growth. It has one unusual and extremely valuable quality--the pods remain tender longer than those of any other sort. Of the dwarf limas there is a new variety which is destined, I think,
to become the leader of the half-dozen other good sorts to be had. That is the Burpee Improved. The name is rather misleading, as it is not an improved strain of the Dreer's or Kumerle bush lima, but a mutation, now thoroughly fixed. The bushes are stronger-growing and much larger than those of the older types, reaching a height of nearly three feet, standing strongly erect; both pods and beans are much larger, and it is a week earlier. Henderson's new Early Giant I have not yet tried, but from the description I should say it is the same type as the above. Of the pole limas, the new Giant-podded is the hardiest--an important point in limas, which are a little delicate in constitution anyway, especially in the seedling stage--and the biggest yielder of any I have grown and just as good in quality--and there is no vegetable much better than well cooked limas. With me, also, it has proved as early as that old standard, Early Leviathan, but this may have been a chance occurrence. Ford's Mammoth is another excellent pole lima of large
size. Of the other pole beans, the two that are still my favorites are Kentucky Wonder, or Old Homestead, and Golden Cluster. The former has fat meaty green pods, entirely stringless until nearly mature, and of enormous length. I have measured many over eight and a half inches long--and they are borne in great profusion. Golden Cluster is one of the handsomest beans I know. It is happily named, for the pods, of a beautiful rich golden yellow color, hang in generous clusters and great profusion. In quality it has no superior; it has always been a great favorite with my customers. One need never fear having too many of these, as the dried beans are pure white and splendid for winter use. Last season I tried a new pole bean called Burger's Green-pod Stringless or White-seeded Kentucky Wonder (the dried seeds of the old sort being brown). It did well, but was in so dry a place that I could not tell whether it was an improvement over the standard or not. It is claimed to be earlier.
Beets:--In beets, varieties are almost endless, but I confess
that I have found no visible difference in many cases. Edmund's Early and Early Model are good for first crops. The Egyptian strains, though largely used for market, have never been as good in quality with me. For the main crop I like Crimson Globe. In time it is a second early, of remarkably good form, smooth skin and fine quality and color.
Broccoli:--This vegetable is a poorer cousin of the cauliflower (which, by the way, has been termed "only a cabbage with a college education"). It is of little use where cauliflower can be grown, but serves as a substitute in northern sections, as it is more hardy than that vegetable. Early White French is the standard sort.
Brussels sprouts:--This vegetable, in my opinion, is altogether too little grown. It is as easy to grow as fall and winter cabbage, and while the yield is less, the quality is so much superior that for the home garden it certainly should be a favorite. Today (Jan. 19th) we had for dinner sprouts from a few old plants that had been left in transplanting boxes in an open coldframe. These had been out all winter--with no protection, repeatedly freezing and thawing, and, while of course small, they were better in quality than any cabbage you ever ate. Dalkeith is the best dwarf-growing sort. Danish Prize is a new sort, giving a much heavier yield than the older types. I have tried it only one year, but should say it will become the standard variety.
Cabbage:--In cabbages, too, there is an endless mix-up of varieties. The Jersey Wakefield still remains the standard early. But it is at the best but a few days ahead of the flat-headed early sorts which stand much longer without breaking, so that for the home garden a very few heads will do. Glory of Enkhuisen is a new early sort that has become a great favorite. Early Summer and Succession are good to follow these, and Danish Ballhead is the best quality winter cabbage, and unsurpassed for keeping qualities. But for the home garden the Savoy type is, to my mind, far and away the best. It is not in the same class with the ordinary sorts at all. Perfection Drumhead Savoy is the best variety. Of the red cabbages, Mammoth Rock is the standard.
Carrots:--The carrots are more restricted as to number of varieties. Golden Ball is the earliest of them all, but also the smallest yielder. Early Scarlet Horn is the standard early, being a
better yielder than the above. The Danvers Half-long is probably grown more than all other kinds together. It grows to a length of about six inches, a very attractive deep orange in color. Where the garden soil is not in excellent condition, and thoroughly fined and pulverized as it should be, the shorter-growing kinds, Ox-heart and Chantenay, will give better satisfaction. If there is any choice in quality, I should award it to Chantenay.
Cauliflower;--There is hardly a seed uncatalogued which does not
contain its own special brand of the very best and earliest cauliflower ever introduced. These are for the most part selected strains of either the old favorite, Henderson's Snowball, or the old Early Dwarf Erfurt. Snowball, and Burpee's Best Early, which resembles it, are the best varieties I have ever grown for spring or autumn. They are more likely to head, and of much finer quality than any of the large late sorts. Where climatic conditions are not favorable to growing cauliflower, and in dry sections, Dry-weather is the most certain to form heads.
Celery:--For the home garden the dwarf-growing, "self-blanching" varieties of celery are much to be preferred. White Plume and Golden Self-blanching are the best. The former is the earliest celery and of excellent quality, but not a good keeper. Recent introductions in celery have proved very real improvements. Perhaps the best of the newer sorts, for home use, is Winter Queen, as it is more readily handled than some of the standard market sorts. In quality it has no superior. When put away for winter properly, it will keep through April.
Corn:--You will have to suit yourself about corn. I have not the temerity to name any best varieties--every seed store has about half a dozen that are absolutely unequaled. For home use, I have cut my list down to three: Golden Bantam, a dwarf-growing early of extraordinary hardiness--can be planted earlier than any other sort and, while the ears are small and with yellow kernels, it is exceptionally sweet and fine in flavor. This novelty of a few years since, has attained wide popular favor as quickly as any vegetable I know. Seymour's Sweet
Orange is a new variety, somewhat similar to Golden Bantam, but later and larger, of equally fine quality. White Evergreen, a perfected strain of Stowell's Evergreen, a standard favorite for years, is the third. It stays tender longer than any other sweet corn I have ever grown.
Cucumbers:--Of cucumbers also there is a long and varied list of names. The old Extra Early White Spine is still the best early; for the main crop, some "perfected" form of White Spine. I myself like the Fordhood Famous, as it is the healthiest strain I ever grew, and has very large fruit that stays green, while being of fine quality. In the last few years the Davis Perfect has won great popularity, and deservedly so. Many seedsmen predict that this is destined to become the leading standard--and where seedsmen agree let us prick up our ears! It has done very well with me, the fruit being the handsomest of any I have grown. If it proves as strong a grower it will replace Fordhood Famous with me.
Egg-plant:--New York Improved Purple is still the standard, but it has been to a large extent replaced by Black Beauty, which has the merit of being ten days earlier and a more handsome fruit. When once tried it will very likely be the only sort grown.
Endive:--This is a substitute for lettuce for which I personally
have never cared. It is largely used commercially. Broad-leaved Batavian is a good variety. Giant Fringed is the largest.
Kale:--Kale is a foreigner which has never been very popular in this country. Dwarf Scott Curled is the tenderest and most delicate (or least coarse) in flavor.
Kohlrabi:--This peculiar mongrel should be better known. It looks as though a turnip had started to climb into the cabbage class and stopped half-way. When gathered young, not more than an inch and a half in diameter at the most, they are quite nice and tender. They are of the easiest cultivation. White Vienna is the best.
Leek:--For those who like this sort of thing it is--just the sort of thing they like. American Flag is the best variety, but why it was given the first part of that name, I do not know.
Lettuce:--To cover the lettuces thoroughly would take a chapter by itself. For lack of space, I shall have to mention only a few varieties, although there are many others as good and suited to
different purposes. For quality, I put Mignonette at the top of the list, but it makes very small heads. Grand Rapids is the best loose- head sort--fine for under glass, in frames and early outdoors. Last fall from a bench 40 x 4 ft., I sold $36 worth in one crop, besides some used at home. I could not sell winter head lettuce to customers who had once had this sort, so good was its quality. May King and Big Boston are the best outdoor spring and early summer sorts. New York and Deacon are the best solid cabbage-head types for resisting summer heat, and long standing. Of the cos type Paris White is good.
Muskmelon:--The varieties of muskmelon are also without limit. I
mention but two--which have given good satisfaction out of a large
number tried, in my own experience. Netted Gem (known as Rocky Ford) for a green-fleshed type, and Emerald Gem for salmon-fleshed. There are a number of newer varieties, such as Hoodoo, Miller's Cream, Montreal, Nutmeg, etc., all of excellent quality.
Watermelon:--With me (in Connecticut) the seasons are a little
short for this fruit. Cole's Early and Sweetheart have made the best showing. Halbert Honey is the best for quality.
Okra:--In cool sections the Perfected Perkins does best, but it
is not quite so good in quality as the southern favorite, White Velvet. The flowers and plants of this vegetable are very ornamental.
Onion:--For some unknown reason, different seedsmen call the
same onion by the same name. I have never found any explanation of this, except that a good many onions given different names in the catalogs are really the same thing. At least they grade into each other more than other vegetables. With me Prizetaker is the only sort now grown in quantity, as I have found it to out yield all other yellows, and to be a good keeper. It is a little milder in quality than the American yellows--Danvers and Southport Globe. When started under glass and transplanted out in April, it attains the size and the quality of the large Spanish onions of which it is a descendant. Weathersfield Red is the standard flat red, but not quite so good in quality or for keeping as Southport Red Globe. Of the whites I like best Mammoth Silver-skin. It is ready early and the finest in quality, to my taste, of all the onions, but not a good keeper. Ailsa Craig, a new English sort now listed in several American catalogs, is the best to grow for extra fancy onions, especially for exhibiting; it should be started in February or March under glass.

Parsley:--Emerald is a large-growing, beautifully colored and mild-flavored sort, well worthy of adoption.
Parsnip:--This vegetable is especially valuable because it may
be had at perfection when other vegetables are scarce. Hollow Crown ("Improved," of course!) is the best.
Peas:--Peas are worse than corn. You will find enough exclamation points in the pea sections of catalogs to train the vines on. If you want to escape brain fatigue and still have as good as the best, if not better, plant Gradus (or Prosperity) for early and second early; Boston Unrivaled (an improved form of Telephone) for main crop, and Gradus for autumn. These two peas are good yielders, free growers and of really wonderfully fine quality. They need bushing, but I have never found a variety of decent quality that does not.
Pepper:--Ruby King is the standard, large, red, mild pepper, and as good as any. Chinese Giant is a newer sort, larger but later. The flesh is extremely thick and mild. On account of this quality, it will have a wider range of use than the older sorts.
Pumpkins:--The old Large Cheese, and the newer Quaker Pie, are as prolific, hardy and fine in quality and sweetness as any.

Potato:--Bovee is a good early garden sort, but without the best of culture is very small. Irish Cobbler is a good early white. Green Mountain is a universal favorite for main crop in the East--a sure yielder and heavy-crop potato of excellent quality. Uncle Sam is the best quality potato I ever grew. Baked, they taste almost as rich as chestnuts.
Radish:--I do not care to say much about radishes; I do not like them. They are, however, universal favorites. They come round, half- long, long and tapering; white, red, white-tipped, crimson, rose, yellow-brown and black; and from the size of a button to over a foot long by fifteen inches in circumference--the latter being the new Chinese or Celestial. So you can imagine what a revel of varieties the seed stores may indulge in. I have tried many--and cut my own list down to two, Rapid-red (probably an improvement of the old standard, Scarlet Button), and Crimson Globe (or Giant), a big, rapid, healthy grower of good quality, and one that does not get "corky." A little land-plaster, or gypsum, worked into the soil at time of planting, will add to both appearance and quality in radishes.
Spinach:--The best variety of spinach is Swiss Chard Beet (see below). If you want the real sort, use Long Season, which will give you cuttings long after other sorts have run to seed. New Zealand will stand more heat than any other sort. Victoria is a newer variety, for which the claim of best quality is made. In my own trial I could not notice very much difference. It has, however, thicker and "savoyed" leaves.
Salsify:--This is, to my taste, the most delicious of all root
vegetables. It will not do well in soil not deep and finely pulverized, but a row or two for home use can be had by digging and fining before sowing the seed. It is worth extra work. Mammoth Sandwich is the best variety.
Squash:--Of this fine vegetable there are no better sorts for the home garden than the little Delicata, and Fordhook. Vegetable Marrow is a fine English sort that does well in almost all localities. The best of the newer large-vined sorts is The Delicious. It is of finer quality than the well known Hubbard. For earliest use, try a few plants of White or Yellow Bush Scalloped. They are not so good in quality as either Delicata or Fordhook, which are ready within a week or so later. The latter are also excellent keepers and can be had, by starting plants early and by careful storing, almost from June to June.
Tomato:--If you have a really hated enemy, give him a dozen seed
catalogs and ask him to select for you the best four tomatoes. But
unless you want to become criminally involved, send his doctor around the next morning. A few years ago I tried over forty kinds. A good many have been introduced since, some of which I have tried. I am prepared to make the following statements: Earliana is the earliest quality tomato, for light warm soils, that I have ever grown; Chalk's Jewel, the earliest for heavier soils (Bonny Best Early resembles it); Matchless is a splendid main-crop sort; Ponderosa is the biggest and best quality--but it likes to split. There is one more sort, which I have tried one year only, so do not accept my opinion as conclusive. It is the result of a cross between Ponderosa and Dwarf Champion--one of the strongest-growing sorts. It is called Dwarf Giant. The fruits are tremendous in size and in quality unsurpassed by any. The vine is very healthy, strong and stocky. I believe this new tomato will become the standard main crop for the home garden. By all means try it. And that is a good deal to say for a novelty in its second year!
Turnip:--The earliest turnip of good quality is the White Milan.
There are several others of the white-fleshed sorts, but I have never found them equal in quality for table to the yellow sorts. Of these, Golden Ball (or Orange Jelly) is the best quality. Petrowski is a different and distinct sort, of very early maturity and of especially fine quality. If you have room for but one sort in your home garden, plant this for early, and a month later for main crop.
Do not fail to try some of this year's novelties. Half the fun of
gardening is in the experimenting. But when you are testing out the new things in comparison with the old, just take a few plants of the latter and give them the same extra care and attention. Very often the reputation of a novelty is built upon the fact that in growing it on trial the gardener has given it unusual care and the best soil and location at his command. Be fair to the standards--and very often they will surprise you fully as much as the novelties.


I use the term "methods of fighting"
rather than the more usual one,
"remedies," because by both
experience and study I am more and more convinced that so long as the gardener--home or otherwise--who cares to be neglectful and thus become a breeder of all sorts of plant pests, is allowed to do so--just so long we can achieve no remedy worth the name.

When speaking of a remedy in this connection we very frequently are putting the cart before the horse, and refer to some means of prevention. Prevention is not only the best, but often the only cure. This the gardener should always remember.
Early detection and treatment of pests and diseases means a healthier growing environment. Pest management can be one of the greatest challenges to the home gardener. Yard pests include weeds, insects, diseases, and some species of wildlife. Weeds are plants that are growing out of place. Insect pests include an enormous number of species from tiny thrips, that are nearly invisible to the naked eye, to the large larvae of the tomato hornworm. Diseases are caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other organisms, some of which are only now being classified. Poor plant nutrition and misuse of pesticides also can cause injury to plants. Slugs, mites, and many species of wildlife such as rabbits, deer, and crows can be extremely destructive. Careful identification of the problem is essential before control practices can be used. Some insect damage may appear to be a disease, especially if no visible insects are present. Nutrient problems may also mimic diseases. Herbicide damage resulting from misapplication of chemicals also can be mistaken for other problems.

Insects and mites

All insects have six legs, but other than that they are extremely variable. They include such organisms as beetles, flies, bees, ants, moths, and butterflies. Mites and spiders have eight legs- they are not insects. But for the purposes of this discussion, they will be considered as insects.
Finding a pest problem and then treating for that problem - such as spot

spraying - is cost effective and limits any damage to non-targeted species. Insects damage plants in several ways. The most visible damage is chewed plant leaves and flowers. Many pests are visible and can be readily identified, including the Japanese beetle, Colorado potato beetle, and numerous species of caterpillars such as tent caterpillars and tomato hornworms.

Other chewing insects, however, such as cutworms (which are caterpillars) come out at night to eat, and burrow into the soil during the day. These are much harder to identify but should be considered if young plants seem to disappear overnight or are found cut off at ground level. Sucking insects are extremely common and can be very damaging. These insects insert their mouth parts into the plant tissues and suck out the plant juices.

They also may carry diseases that they spread from plant to plant as they move about the yard. You may suspect that these insects are present if you notice misshapen plant leaves or flower petals. Often the younger leaves will appear curled or puckered. Flowers developing from the buds may only partially develop. Look on the underside of the leaves as that is where many species tend to gather. Common sucking insects include leafhoppers, aphids, mealy bugs, thrips and mites. Other insects cause damage by boring into stems, fruits, and leaves. They may disrupt the plant’s ability to transport water. They also create opportunities for disease organisms to attack the plants. You may suspect the presence of boring insects if you see small accumulations of sawdust like material on plant stems or fruits. Common examples of boring insects include squash vine borers and corn borers.


Plant disease identification is extremely difficult. In some cases, only
laboratory analysis can conclusively identify diseases. Disease organisms injure plants in several ways. Some attack leaf surfaces and limit the plant’s ability to carry on photosynthesis. Other organisms produce substances that clog plant tissues that transport water and nutrients.
Other disease organisms produce toxins that kill the plant or replace plant
tissue with their own. Symptoms associated with plant diseases may include the presence of mushroom-like growths on trunks of trees; leaves with a grayish mildewy appearance; spots on leaves, flowers, and fruits; sudden wilting or death of a plant or branch; sap exuding from branches or trunks of trees; and stunted growth.
Misapplication of pesticides and nutrients, air pollutants, and other
environmental conditions such as flooding and freezing can also mimic some disease problems. Yellowing or reddening of leaves and stunted growth may indicate a nutritional problem. At first glance, blossom end rot of tomato, in which the bottom of the tomato turns black, might appear to be a disease caused by some pathogen. It is actually caused by the plant’s inability to take up calcium quickly enough during periods of rapid growth. Prevent this problem with adequate moisture-adding more calcium is of no benefit! Leaf curling or misshapen growth may be a result of herbicide application.

Pest management practices

Preventing pests should be your first goal. But it’s unlikely you will be able to avoid all pest problems, since some plant seeds and disease organisms lay dormant in the soil for years.
Diseases need three elements to become established: the disease
organism, a susceptible species, and the proper environmental conditions. Some disease organisms can live in the soil for years; other organisms are carried in infected plant material that falls to the ground. Some disease organisms are carried by insects. Good sanitation will help limit some problems. Planting resistant varieties of plants prevents many diseases. Rotating annual crops in a garden also prevents some diseases. You will likely have the most opportunity to alter the environment in favor of the plant and not the disease. Healthy, garden plants have a higher resistance to pests. Plants that have adequate, but not excessive, nutrients are better able to resist attacks from both diseases and insects.
Excessive rates of nitrogen often result in extremely succulent vegetative
growth and can make plants more susceptible to insect and disease problems, as well as decrease their winter hardiness. Proper watering and spacing of plants limits the spread of some diseases. Some disease species require free standing water in which to spread, while other species just need high humidity. Proper spacing provides good aeration around plants. Trickle irrigation, where water is applied to the soil and not the plant leaves, may be helpful. Barriers may be effective to exclude some pests. Mulching is effective against weeds. Fences can limit damage from rabbits. Row covers may prevent insect damage on young vegetable plants. Netting can be applied to small fruit trees and berries to limit damage from birds.

Integrated Pest Management

It is difficult, if not impossible, to prevent all pest problems every year. If your best prevention efforts have not been entirely successful, you may need to use some control methods. Integrated Pest Management relies on several techniques to keep pests at acceptable population levels without excessive use of chemical controls. The basic principles of IPM include monitoring (scouting), determining tolerable injury levels (thresholds), and applying appropriate strategies and tactics.

Unlike other methods of pest control where pesticides are applied on a rigid schedule, IPM applies only those controls that are needed, when they are needed, to control pests that will cause more than a tolerable level of damage to the plant. Monitoring is essential for a successful IPM program. Check your plants regularly. Look for signs of damage from insects and diseases as well as indications of adequate fertility and moisture. Early identification of potential problems is essential.

There are thousands of insects in the garden, many of which are harmless or even beneficial. Proper identification is needed before control strategies can be adopted. It is important to recognize the different stages of insect development for several reasons. The caterpillar eating your plants may be the larvae of the butterfly you were trying to attract. The small larvae with six spots on its back is probably the young of the ladybug, a very beneficial insect.
Some control practices are most effective on young insects. Different stages may also be more damaging than others. It is not necessary to kill every insect, weed, or disease organism to have a healthy garden.
This is where the concept of thresholds comes in. The economic threshold is the point where the damage caused by the pest exceeds the cost of control. In a home garden, this can be difficult to determine. What you are growing and how you intend to use it will determine how much damage you are willing to tolerate. Remember that larger plants, especially those close to harvest, can tolerate more damage than a tiny seedling. A few flea beetles on a radish seedling may warrant control whereas numerous Japanese beetles eating the leaves of beans close to harvest may not. If the threshold level for control has been exceeded, you may need to employ control strategies. Strategies can be discussed with the Cooperative Extension Service, garden centers, or nurseries.

Control strategies-Mechanical/physical controls


Many insects can be removed by hand. This method is preferable if a few, large insects are causing the problem. Simply remove the insect from the plant and drop it into a container of soapy water or vegetable oil. Caution: some insects have spines or excrete oily substances that can cause injury to humans. Use caution when handling unfamiliar insects. Wear gloves or remove insects with tweezers. Many insects can be removed from plants by spraying water from a hose or sprayer. Small vacuums can be used to suck up insects. Traps can be used effectively for some insects. These come in a variety of styles depending on the insect to be caught. Many traps rely on the use of pheromones --naturally occurring chemicals produced by the insects and used to attract the opposite sex during mating. They are extremely specific for each species and, therefore, will not harm beneficial species. One caution with traps is that they may actually draw more insects into your garden. You should not place them directly in the garden. Other traps are more generic and will attract numerous species. These include such things as yellow and blue sticky cards. Different insects are attracted to different colors. Sticky cards can also be used effectively to monitor insect pests.

Hoeing, pulling, and mulching are the most effective physical control methods for weeds. Weeding is most important while plants are small. Well established plants can often tolerate competition from weeds.

Removal of diseased material limits the spread of some diseases. Clean up litter dropped from diseased plants. Prune diseased branches on trees and shrubs. When pruning diseased plants, disinfect your pruners between cuts with a solution of chlorine bleach to avoid spreading the disease from plant to plant. Control insects known to spread plant diseases.

Other pests
Fences, netting, and plant guards can be extremely successful in
limiting damage from small mammals and birds. Numerous traps are
also available to catch or kill some animals. Caution: In many states it is illegal to move wildlife, including squirrels. Traps may also catch animals other than the ones targeted. Check local regulations before trapping.
Diatomaceous earth, a powder-like dust made of tiny marine organisms called diatoms, can be used to reduce damage from soft-bodied insects and slugs. Spread this material on the soil--it is sharp and cuts or irritates these soft organisms. It is harmless to other organisms. Shallow dishes of beer can be used to trap slugs.

Biological controls

Biological controls are nature's way of regulating populations. Biological controls rely on predators and parasites to keep organisms under control. Many of our present pest problems result from the loss of predator species.
Other biological controls include birds and bats that eat insects. A single bat can eat up to 600 mosquitoes an hour. Many bird species eat insect pests in the garden. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a bacteria that specifically attacks larvae of some insect pests including white grubs in the lawn and Japanese beetles. This bacteria is harmless to desirable species.

Chemical controls

When using chemical controls, be very careful with pesticides. Most
common pesticides are broad spectrum in that they kill a wide variety
of organisms. Spray applications of insecticides are likely to kill numerous beneficial insects as well as the pests. Herbicides applied to weed species may drift in the wind or vaporize in the heat of the day and injure non-targeted plants. Runoff of pesticides can pollute water. Many pesticides are toxic to humans as well as pets and small animals that may enter your yard.
Some common, non-toxic household substances are as effective as
many more toxic compounds. A few drops of dishwashing detergent
mixed with water and sprayed on plants is extremely effective in controlling many soft-bodied insects such as aphids and whiteflies. Crushed garlic mixed with water may control certain insects. A baking soda solution has been shown to help control some fungal diseases on roses.
When using pesticides, follow label directions carefully. Altering the rate of application or increasing the frequency of application can injure desirable plant and animal species.

IF YOU DECIDE that the best solution to your pest problem is chemical. by itself or, preferably, combined with non-chemical treatments be aware that one of the greatest causes of pesticide exposure to humans is the use of pesticides in and around the home. Anyone can buy a wide variety of off the shelf pesticide products to control weeds, unwanted insects, and other pests. No special training is required to use these pesticides. Yet many of the products can be hazardous to people, especially when stored, handled, applied, or disposed of improperly. The results achieved by using chemical pesticides are generally temporary, and repeated treatments may be required. Over time, some pests become pesticide-resistant, meaning they adapt to the chemical and are no longer harmed by it. This forces you to choose another product or method. If used incorrectly, home-use pesticide products can be poisonous to humans. As a result, it is extremely important for you to take responsibility for making sure that these products are used properly. The basic steps in reducing pesticide risks are:
• Choosing the right pesticide product.
• Reading the product label.
• Determining the right amount to purchase and use.
• Using the product safely and correctly.
• Storing and disposing of pesticides properly.

When you are ready to buy a pesticide product, follow these recommendations:
First, be certain that you have identified the problem correctly. Then, choose the least toxic pesticide that will achieve the results you want and be the least toxic to you and the environment.
When the words .broad-spectrum. appear on the label, this means the
product is effective against a broad range of pests. If the label says selective, the product is effective against one or a few pests.
Find the signal word either Danger-Poison, Danger, Warning, or
Caution on the pesticide label. The signal word tells you how poisonous the product is to humans. Pesticide products labeled Danger-Poison are Restricted Use and are mainly used under the supervision of a certified applicator. For the most part, these products should not beavailable for sale to the consumer.
Choose the form of pesticide (aerosol, dust, bait, or other) best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control.

Determining the Correct Amount To Use

Many products can be bought in a convenient ready-to-use form,
such as in spray cans or spray bottles, that won't require any mixing. However, if you buy a product that has to be measured out or mixed with water, prepare only the amount of pesticide that you need for the area where you plan to use the pesticide (target area). The label on a pesticide product contains much useful information, but there isn't always room to include examples of different dilutions for every home use. Thus, it is important to know how to measure volume
and figure out the exact size of the area where you want to apply the pesticide. Determining the correct amount for your immediate use requires some careful calculations. Use the following example as an illustration of how to prepare only the amount of pesticide needed for your immediate pest control problem.
An example: The product label says, .For the control of aphids on
tomatoes, mix 8 fluid ounces of pesticide into 1 gallon of water and
spray until foliage is wet. You have only 6 tomato plants. From experience, you know that 1 gallon is too much, and that you really need only 1 quart of water to wet the leaves on these 6 plants. A quart is only ผ of a gallon. Because you want to use less water than the label says, you need less pesticide. You need only ผ of the pesticide amount listed on the label only 2 fluid ounces. This makes the same strength spray recommended by the label, and is the appropriate amount for the 6 tomato plants. In short, all you need to do is figure the amount of pesticide you need for the size of your target area, using good measurements and careful arithmetic.

Plant Enemies

Aphids:--The small, soft green plant-lice. They seldom attack
healthy growing plants in the field, but are hard to keep off under glass.
Asparagus-beetle:--This pest will give little trouble on cleanly cultivated patches.
Black-rot:--This affects the cabbage group, preventing heading,
by falling of the leaves. In clean, thoroughly limed soil, with proper rotations, it is not likely to appear.
Borers:--This borer is a flattish, white grub, which penetrates
the main stem of squash or other vines near the ground and seems to sap the strength of the plant, even when the vines have attained a length of ten feet or more. His presence is first made evident by the wilting of the leaves during the noonday heat.
Last season almost half the vines in one of my pieces were attacked after many of the squashes were large enough to eat. With a little practice I was able to locate the borer's exact position, shown by a spot in the stalk where the flesh was soft, and of a slightly different color. With a thin, sharp knife-blade the vines were carefully slit lengthwise on this spot, the borer extracted and killed and the vines in almost every instance speedily recovered. Another method is to root the vines by heaping moist earth over several of the leaf joints, when the vines have attained sufficient length.
Cabbage-caterpillar:--This small green worm, which hatches upon
the leaves and in the forming heads of cabbage and other vegetables of the cabbage group, comes from the eggs laid by the common white or yellow butterfly of early spring. Pick off all that are visible, The caterpillar or worm of tomatoes is a large green voracious one. Hand-picking is the only remedy.
Club-root:--This is a parasitical disease attacking the cabbage
group, especially in ground where these crops succeed each other. Lime
both soil and seed-bed--at least the fall before planting, unless using
a special agricultural lime. The crop infested is sometimes carried
through by giving a special dressing of quick-acting powerful fertilizer,
and hilled high with moist earth, thus giving a special stimulation and
encouraging the formation of new roots. While this does not in any way
cure the disease, it helps the crop to withstand its attack. When planting
again be sure to use crop rotation and to set plants not grown in infested soil.
Cucumber-beetle:--This is the small, black-and-yellow-striped
beetle which attacks cucumbers and other vines and, as it multiplies rapidly and does a great deal of damage before the results show, they must be attended to immediately upon appearance. The vine should be protected with screens until they crowd the frames, which should be put in place before the beetles put in an appearance.
Cucumber-wilt:--This condition accompanies the presence of the
striped beetle, although it is supposed to be not directly caused by it.
The only remedy is to get rid of the beetles as above, and to collect and dispose of every wilted leaf or plant.

Cucumber-blight or Mildew is similar to that which attacks muskmelons, the leaves turning yellow, dying in spots and finally drying up altogether.
Cut-worm:--The cut-worm is perhaps the most annoying of all
garden pests. Others do more damage, but none is so exasperating. He works at night, attacks the strongest, healthiest plants, and is content simply to cut them off, seldom, apparently, eating much or carrying away any of the severed leaves or stems, although occasionally I have found such bits, especially small onion tops, dragged off and partly into the soil. In small gardens the quickest and best remedy is hand-picking. As the worms work at night they may be found with a flashlight; or very early in the morning. In daytime by digging about in the soil wherever a cut is found, and by careful search, they can almost invariably be discovered.
Flea-beetle:--This small, black or striped hard-shelled mite
attacks potatoes and young cabbage, radish and turnip plants.
Potato-beetle:--The striped Colorado beetle, which invariably
finds the potato patch, no matter how small or isolated. On small plots
hand-picking of old bugs and destruction of eggs (which are laid on under side of leaves) is quick and sure.
Root-maggot:--This is a small white grub, often causing serious
injury to radishes, onions and the cabbage group. Liming the soil and rotation are the best preventives. Destroy all infested plants, being sure to get the maggots when pulling them up.
Squash-bug:--This is the large, black, flat "stink-bug," so
destructive of squash and the other running vines. Protection with
frames, or hand-picking, are the best home garden remedies. The old
bugs may be trapped under boards and by early vines. The young bugs, or "sap-sucking nymphs," are the ones that do the real damage.

White-Fly:--This is the most troublesome under glass, but occasionally is troublesome on plants and tomato and cucumber vines. The young are scab-like insects and do the real damage.
White-grub or muck-worm:--. When the roots of single plants are attacked, dig out, destroy the grubs and, if the plant is not too much injured, reset.


So much for what we can do in actual hand-to-hand, or rather hand-to-mouth, conflict with the enemy. Very few remedies have ever proved entirely successful, especially on crops covering any considerable area. It will be far better, far easier and far more effective to use the following means of precaution against plant pest ravages: First, aim to have soil, food and plants that will produce a rapid, robust growth without check. Such plants are seldom attacked by any plant disease, and the foliage does not seem to be so tempting to eating-insects; besides which, of course, the plants are much better able to withstand their attack if they do come. Second, give clean, frequent culture and keep the soil busy. Do not have old weeds and refuse lying around for insects and eggs to be sheltered by. Dispose of all leaves, stems and other refuse from plants that have been diseased. Do not let the ground lie idle, but by continuous cropping keep the bugs, caterpillars and eggs constantly rooted out and exposed to their natural enemies. Third, practice crop rotation. This is of special importance where any root disease is developed. Fourth, watch closely and constantly for the first appearance of trouble. The old adages "eternal vigilance is the price of peace," and "a stitch in time saves nine," are nowhere more applicable than to this matter. And last, and of extreme importance, be prepared to act at once. Do not give the enemy an hour's rest after his presence is discovered. In almost every case it is only by having time to multiply, that damage amounting to anything will be done.

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